Q&A: Garrett Broshuis, Former Minor League Pitcher

25 04 2011

Garrett Broshuis (Credit: Tom Clifton/Flickr.com)

I recently had the chance to talk to former minor-league pitcher Garrett Broshuis. Broshuis spent five years in the San Francisco Giants’ farm system, making it up to AAA before calling it quits in 2009. Now age 29, Broshuis is studying at Saint Louis University School of Law. He also runs a blog called Life In The Minors and frequently writes guest columns for Baseball America about the minor-league experience. Below is an excerpt of our conversation:

What went into your decision to call it a career in 2009? Was it a difficult decision? 

It was a difficult decision. Anytime you’ve devoted a good portion of your life to something–and all of your adult life–it’s not easy to give it up. My life revolved around this game. I became accustomed to putting on that uniform each night, to stepping on the green grass, to hanging out with the guys, and to performing. Yet my dream wasn’t to be a minor league baseball player. Once I came to the realization that my dream probably wasn’t going to happen, I had to seriously think about giving it up. 

A few things made this decision easier for me to make. First, I was married, and I loved my wife more than I loved the game. I had to not only think of myself in making this decision but also to think of my wife. For me to continue playing at that point in my career would’ve been selfish. On the salary that I made, my wife had to stay at home in St. Louis to work during the season. She paid the bills while I had my head in the clouds. At a certain point, this becomes unfair. And I think I reached that point in my last year. Also, I had other things that I wanted to do with my life. I loved every single moment that I played that game, but I didn’t want my entire life to be about baseball. It was time to write a new chapter in my own book of life. And one more thing: my back, arm and hip all felt like they were going to fall apart. The innings take a toll. I didn’t have any one major thing that would require surgery, but everything seemed to hurt, and my velocity wasn’t what it was when I was 21.

Despite those things, it was still incredibly difficult to pull the trigger. Once the 2009 season ended, I thought it was probably my last season. I even knew this as I made my last start that season. I knew as I took the mound that it might be the last time that I donned the spikes and uniform. But I didn’t pull the trigger until February of 2010. So it took some time to actually make the decision.

You married your wife while you were still playing. Is that a common occurrence among minor-leaguers (given the constant travel and salary issues that most minor-leaguers face)?

Once you get to AA and AAA, there are quite a few guys that are married because the average age of guys is higher, and there’s more variance in ages. Generally, on a AA team (and this is just a rough guess) there are probably 5 or 6 married guys and one or two more engaged. So it’s around 1/4 or 1/3. In AAA it’s usually just a bit higher.

It’s definitely not easy to be away from your wife. Some guys managed to have their wives travel with them, but I never did. It’s tough financially, and I wanted my wife to have her own identity. I didn’t want my wife to just be following me around everywhere I went. She’s an intelligent girl and a great Physical Therapist. She wouldn’t have been happy just following me around, living my life.

It was definitely hard not having her there. Your wife is the one person that you want to share everything with–both good and bad. After pitching a game, you have so many emotions going through your body. The one person you want to truly share these emotions with is not there. You lay down at the end of the night, and, even after a great game, something still feels missing. There’s still a bit of emptiness inside of you that never really goes away.

What do you miss most about your playing days? Do you ever think about how everything would have shaken out had you played for a few more years?

I had a buddy named Mike Cervenak who played forever in the minor leagues. He finally broke through with the Phillies for just a few games the year they won the World Series. One thing he said about finally breaking through was that it vindicated all the time that he spent in the minors. Yet I don’t really think that I needed that. I gave it everything that I had every moment that I was in the game. I would’ve loved to have made it to the big leagues. I would love to still be playing. But I would not be happy right now if I were playing in AA or AAA. My wife would not be happy right now. And I have a daughter now that I would never see. It was time to move on, and I’m completely happy with the decision that I made. I have no regrets.

There’s always the possibility that if I had played a couple more years, maybe the stars would’ve aligned, and I would’ve broken through. But the possibility was remote, and I don’t need that to be happy with who I am as a person.

There are a lot of little things that I miss about the game. Sitting in the back of the bus, practicing my Spanish with the Latinos. Executing a perfect changeup, watching the hitter swing and miss. Listening to guys BS and tell stories before BP. Signing autographs before and after games. Experiencing the culture of each city and town in which I played. The list is endless.

But there are a lot of other things that I don’t miss. And I love being home with my wife and child every night.

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